Manfrotto’s Manhattan Mover-30 backpack has an attractive urban look. But that doesn’t mean it’s only suitable for occasional use, it feels like it’s ready to survive some action. It’s also made from water-repellent fabric and a rain cover is supplied should a drizzle turn to a downpour.
With city-use and commuters in mind, the largest section is accessed via a rear opening. This means that nobody can get at your kit when you’re carrying the bag. And if you’re out in the wilds, it means the bag has to be laid on its front for you to access your gear. So you won’t get caked in it when you swing the pack on your back again.
There are thick, cushioned dividers inside the main section. As each of these has Velcro tabs, they can be repositioned to accommodate whatever you need to carry.
A zip across the top of the backpack gives access to another configurable compartment. If you remove the central divider, this area can be used to stow an extra layer or your packed lunch.
You’ll find a handle that’s attached to the padding towards the back of the top section. This enables you to pull out the whole of the camera container to allow the pack to be used as a regular backpack.
Helpfully, there’s a mesh cover that can be zipped over the container to keep all your camera gear together while it’s out of the bag.
Overall, there’s space for a large camera like a Nikon D850 or Canon 5D Mark IV with 3 to 5 lenses. I even found room for a 70-200mm f/2.8 and 3 other lenses in the bottom section. I also used it to carry a Panasonic Lumix G9 with an array of lenses and on another occasion, the Fujifilm X-T3 and 3 lenses including the 40-150mm f/2.8. All with extra bits and bobs scattered through the pockets and top section.
At the front of the pack, there’s a side-opening section designed to hold a laptop of up to 14-inches and/or a tablet. As the rain cover fits over the front of the backpack like a shower cap, with the elastic scrunching around the carry straps, your laptop is very well protected from any rain.
There’s a pocket on the inside of the top section of the bag that’s ideal for spare batteries, a powerbank and/or your keys. I found it a bit small to fit my purse, but I’ve got one of those long purses.
Under a narrow flap towards the top of the front of the backpack, there’s a deep pocket. This extends down to the lower zip pocket or tripod support. It’s only shallow but because it spans the wide of the pack it can hold quite a bit – my purse for a start.
On the right-hand side as you wear the pack, there’s an expandable pocket. This is ideal for carrying a bottle of water or a mini tripod like 3 Legged Thing Iggy.
A standard tripod needs to be carried on the front of the bag. There’s a zip-pocket near the base of the bag that houses the rain cover and this can be opened to take some of a tripod’s weight. Opening a zip next to the expanding pocket reveals some hidden tripod straps. These clip onto the snap buckles on the opposite side of the pack to hold a tripod in place.
Helpfully, the tripod straps are split towards the centre so you can slip a tripod leg through to keep it in position. They also both have a non-slip coating, which again helps keep the tripod in place. I find it can even keep a large tripod like the Manfrotto 190Go! under control. It doesn’t slop about and make you unbalanced.
I carried the Manfrotto Manhattan Mover-30 with the camera sections full of lenses (the camera was out) for over 7 miles. It was only over the last couple that I started to feel the straps pulling on my shoulders. Even then, a quick jiggle was enough to make it comfortable for another half mile or so.
The straps are reasonably wide and well-padded, but (obviously) not to the standard of a premium bag like the Gitzo Adventury. As usual, there’s a chest strap. Doing this up takes some of the weight off your shoulders, making the pack easier to carry.
Unlike some backpacks, the Manhattan Mover-30 doesn’t have a waist-belt. To be honest, if it did, I probably wouldn’t have used it. The pack sits squarely enough on my back with just the shoulder straps and it’s not really big enough to warrant the extra support.
I’ve also used the over-30 for business. Trips into London for a meeting or press briefing that I’ve combined with a shooting opportunity. It’s done its job well, looking smart enough for business while still carrying everything I need.
It took me a while to figure out how I wanted to carry my kit in the Manfrotto Manhattan Mover-30. It’s easy for a dedicated photo trip. I start with the camera in the top section and fill the lower section with lenses. The tripod is fixed on the front and my purse is in the large front pocket along with a couple of filters if I think I might need them. Spare batteries go in the zip-up pocket in the top section.
If I’m headed for a press briefing, things get a little more complicated. I put the camera and 2 or 3 lenses in the larger bottom section. My 12-inch MacBook has a dedicated compartment and I can attach a tripod if I need one. I take the central divider out of the top section and put all my essential bits and bobs in there.
However, I’d really like a removable organiser compartment like the one that comes with LowePro FreeLine BP 350 AW. It’s handy for things like business cards, pens and a laptop charger cable that can get jumbled up with other kit.
What impressed me about the Manfrotto Manhattan Mover-30, is how much space it provides. Larger items like your camera, lenses, tripod and laptop are all well-catered for. Importantly, they’re all well-protected by the padding, while the hidden zip of the lower section keeps them away from opportunist thieves. It’s also smart and shrugs of a little rain – or a lot of rain with the cover in place.